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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Dec;187(6):1536-8.

Emergency contraception and fire extinguishers: a prevention paradox.

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  • 1Family Health International, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Fires and unintended pregnancies are important causes of morbidity, mortality, and financial loss in the United States. Home fire extinguishers and emergency contraception are both effective preventive interventions. The disparity between access to fire extinguishers and emergency contraception is irrational and indirectly hurts women's health. Although fire extinguishers require the user to make a diagnosis, choose the appropriate treatment, and assume some risk of serious injury and death, these canisters of pressurized chemicals are widely available without restriction. In contrast, women face several unnecessary obstacles to overcome before using emergency contraception, which is both simpler and safer to use. Clearly, a double standard prevails in prevention strategies for women. The Food and Drug Administration should approve over-the-counter availability of emergency contraception without further study or delay.

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